Mohammad Imanli: “The only reason for my arrest is my political views…”
“I have not committed any crime, I have been repressed for my political views,” said Mohammad Imanli, a member of the opposition Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan (PFPA), speaking at his court hearing on 16 February.
The Baku Court of Appeal, chaired by Judge Amir Bayramov, was considering an appeal against the verdict of the PFPA activist. He had been sentenced to one year in prison. Charged with endangering the lives of others by taking to the streets while infected with COVID-19, Mohammed Imanli stated in court that the accusation was false, he had not been infected with the virus and was not caught on the street.
According to him, on the night of 14-15 July, after a pro-war rally in Baku, mass arrests of members of the Popular Front Party began. On that evening, the field commissioner came to the house where he lived: “I was taken from my house. What is written in the accusation is a complete lie. The government is simply using the coronavirus to repress [oppositoin]. I am also one of the victims. The only reason for my arrest is my political views… ”
His lawyer, Asabali Mustafayev, also said the accusation was baseless. According to the lawyer, criminal proceedings have been instituted against more than 100 people across the country under this article, but none of them is currently in custody.
“The only detainee is Mohammad Imanli. Detainees under this article are not arrested in Baku or in the regions, and are subject to police custody. Taking this into account, Mohammad Imanli rightly says, ‘I am a victim of political discrimination.’ The courts themselves politicize the issue with this approach… Mohammad Imanli was not a coronavirus carrier until his arrest. We have submitted evidence showing this to the court. However, that evidence was not reviewed. Investigate and show that our evidence is false. [They] don’t do that either.”
Despite these statements, the appeal was rejected. The Sabunchu District Court upheld the sentence of Mohammad Imanli of one year in prison.
Ramiz Imanov, the father of the young man, told Meydan TV that they would appeal the decision of the appellate court to the Supreme Court: “A show court was held and the decision was upheld. My son was arrested by the police. Show court judges also repeat the song sung by the police because Azerbaijan is ruled by a police regime.”
Meydan TV has chronicled many cases in which coronavirus restrictions have been used to suppress and jail opposition.